Get Your Craft Fair On: Prep & Pack For Success!

Next up on the Get Your Craft Fair On Series is the perfect prep and pack. It can be overwhelming to think about all the things you don't want to forget. For me, that's a trap. Instead of focusing on what I need and planning, we find ourselves getting a bit frantic with "oh, and don't forget" items. That can lead to stress trying to remember and missing things you need. This is all easily avoidable with some solid prep and packing for your event. 

For me, I break it down into four categories. This helps me go through each aspect of the event so I really don't miss a thing. I start this process as I am building the display and that way as I think of things, if they are not on the checklist already, I just jot them down. By the time for packing rolls around, I am a lean prepped machine and packing is a breeze.

Here are the categories and how I break them down followed by a sample of the checklist I use.

BOOTH: Display

Now that you have the perfect display layout for your items, make a detailed list of what you will need to get set up. By keeping the Booth Display its own category, you can focus strictly on the mechanics of setting up your display. Do you need any tools like a hammer, screw-gun, pliers, etc.? Do you need string or push pins? Will you need a step ladder or trash can? Go through each stage of your booth set up and make yourself a list of items you will need. Pack them all so that you can set up your booth exactly as you envisioned but also be prepared for what may come up!

BOOTH: Selling

What will you need to sell your products? What about payment processing; have you tested your device and updated any apps? Did you set up for Sales Tax and know the rate? Do you have business cards and a place to put them? Will you be taking custom orders? If so, how will you keep them? Do you have an order form? What about color swatches for your customers to select from? Do you need your business license on hand, is it required by the event? This is the finishing touches stuff that means so much. It is imperative to maintain brand through the whole selling experience so think of what you need to do that.


Prepping inventory can be overwhelming. That feeling of the need to make ALL THE THINGS. Take a beat. Breathe. Go through your current inventory and decide what you need to add. Make yourself a small list and production timeline to get items ready. Set mini goals such as 10 scarves week 1, 5 hats Monday, etc. Based on what you can truly achieve, don't over pressure yourself, you can create a schedule of what to make.

I also like to make a full inventory list of what I am bringing. This helps me track sales and inventory throughout the event and keep things easy. In addition to product for the event, you may want to make a list of what will be put out first so that can be packed where it is easily accessible. And, while in theory we should have all of our products prepped and ready, I always find myself with last minute To-Do's. Maybe you need to add fringe to an item. Maybe add a hem. I also like to have Work-In-Progress projects on hand to work on during slow moments in the booth. It is a great conversation starter and can help pass the time if you have down time.

HOTEL (if applicable):

For me, I like to have my tea and oatmeal. It is easy, portable and I can make sure I eat something everyday because it is easy to forget. So I have a little kit I take.

I also have my personal essentials to take to the booth each day: Travel Tea Mug, Flat Outs for my poor feet, mascara, lip gloss and face cream. If I've got these I am set for the win.

You can use this checklist that helps me or just make yourself a list of what makes you happy and get prepped to pack for success.

Get Your Craft Fair On: Setting Up The Perfect Display

So you've applied for the perfect Craft Fair and got accepted. Woo Hoo! Now time to prep your display. Say What? It can be a daunting task to visualize and then realize your first craft fair set up. Have no stress. We got you!

First let's talk about your overall set up. The design and layout of your booth or display is more important than many realize.  It is not as easy as popping open a few folding tables, spreading out your wares and waiting for the masses to come rolling in to buy. I have learned that the design of your display is as much a factor of a successful show and sales as the products themselves.

Before you can even think about your display, first you need to think about WHAT you will be selling.  I have a variety of inventory but don’t bring all to all events. Now sure, some say “well, if you don’t bring it you can’t sell it”. But that’s not true. You can take orders, ship to customers if you don’t have something on site or any other ways to sell.  You want your booth to have a cohesive look and feel. Not everything you carry will work. Think about the audience and customer base who will be attending the event and what will work.

Now that you know WHAT you are selling, it is time to focus on the display. Think inviting. Think clean. Think cozy. If you sell touchy feely products you need to make sure they are accessible. Think about how a customer will experience you, your brand and your booth. Then get to work on your display.

A word of caution before you start buying things: it may be worth it to find out if the event is supplying or renting tables to vendors. While renting may seem wasteful when you can OWN and continue to use something, you run the risk of ending up with lots of "stuff" that didn't exactly work out. You may be able to rent a table and chair from them for a small fee and use the rest of your budget on display set up. This allows you to play around until you find what works best for you. Test then buy is my motto.  And before you buy, see what you have around the house that can help with your set up. Maybe you have baskets or stands. You can decorate shoe boxes. Get creative.

Build your booth in advance so you can truly see what will work. I cleared out our dining room, tape marked the floor to the exact size of my booth and did a few test runs. No matter how good things look on paper I cannot tell you how valuable this was. I was able to truly see what worked and what didn’t and it also helped things go smoothly on actual set up day.

Keri from Izy & Oly did a great job of maximizing space and displaying product. Customers can get a clear view of all fabric options and the variety of products. She really maximizes space by going up and down and her use of baskets keeps things organized and clean.


I love the look that Janet from Flowerchick Designs uses. You can clearly see her products and the variety as well as her branding. At a glance people are able to seethe colors and array of items. Her prices are clearly marked which is a big thing in display set-ups. You want to be able to answer customer questions, but also have the information available. By covering the tables with long table linens she can keep her extra inventory handy but still keep her display looking clean.

When I did my first event, I was given a 5x5 space to show my work and be ready to sell for four days in one of Chicago's biggest markets. No stress (are you kidding? I think I cried more than once).  I had to maximize space but seem inviting and show my offerings. I decided to go up and down much like Keri did.

My total booth set up cost under $200 (which was $50 more than I budgeted so there's that). I used the dress forms I already had for my product photography and bought an additional set of Styrofoam heads to display multiple hat styles. I bought a variety of "Laundry" baskets at discount and filled them with lots of colorful product. This allowed me to utilize the floor space in front of my display table and also invited people to touch and feel. I actually became known as "the touchy feely booth" by the end of the event and it worked out perfectly because there was always that "crowd" vibe and fun at my booth.

Instead of "tables" I bought stackable plastic drawer totes and covered them with a solid black sheet. This allowed me to keep my inventory restock out of site to keep my both looking clean. It also allowed me to keep my restock accessible and handy as things sold.

When I moved up the following year to a full 10 x 10 booth in the Fashion District of the show I had to step my game up. But I knew it would be a long term investment as well. I brought the storage units from my studio to create a Wall Of Color. I also visited stores that were going out of business to see what I could get on the cheap. I got a $1500 wall rack full unit for $125! And at a closing JC Penny I got a full set of mannequins for $50! Kinda cool.

I have since made additional changes to my set up to better invite and serve customers. I also tailor my set up to the type of event. I always start with what will I be selling and where is the event. Then make necessary tweaks to my set up as needed. But it all starts with a base set up.

Whatever your set up - it is essential to be able to keep your display well stocked. When you make sales re-stock quickly. While empty tables and shelves might be a good feeling of accomplishment, customers like to shop and browse and have choices. It is a shopping mentality. So keep your re-stock handy.

Do you sell things that need to be tried on? If yes, don't forget to have a mirror AND a place where people can see themselves in that mirror. I once saw a booth hang the mirror so far in the back corner it defeated the purpose of having one because no one could use it.

Another thing that is so important is your signage. You want to be able to have brand recognition and let customers know where they are shopping.

Last, but certainly not least, be wary of overstocking and of excess. You don't want things to seem cluttered. It is a fine balance, but an essential one. Clutter turns customers off and excess (things like extra chairs, waters, etc) make it look more like a hangout than a booth.

It is a lot but do not be overwhelmed. Take a step back and vision your booth. When thinking of your display here is a list of things to consider. Answer these questions and use this checklist to get started to building a successful display. Share your pics with the community on Instagram tagging #stitchandhustle